Midterm and Week 2 of Cakes

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We had our midterm yesterday. I didn't realize how stressed I was about it until it was over. Monday night I sat down to study and realized that Monday nights are really not very good nights to study. I have pastry from 7-12 and sanitation and safety from 1-4 on Mondays. By the time evening rolls around, I am exhausted and my brain feels like mush. I studied anyways, but was feeling frustrated. I got my second quiz back on Monday in class and earned an 84% (8 out of 10 questions plus bonus questions). That is usually an acceptable grade, but I was still disappointed in it. The wording of the questions was what got me and I was very worried about the midterm because of it. I felt so much better after taking the midterm. There were only one or two questions that even after going back to them, I wasn't 100% confident in. I do know that I nailed the 10 point bonus question. The directions said to explain in detail how we prepared the Apple Tarts for the Founder's Day get together. I went into GREAT detail and even redrew the diagrams she had put on the board that day. Hopefully I will end up with over 100% on the test.

Last week our groups were switched around. Chef B was out sick so she never was placed in a new group. When we came in on Monday, she was at our table and Chef CJ left her there. The guy in our group who decided to create his own plating of the pound cake moved himself to another table. We didn't really mind. I was happy that Chef B was allowed to stay at our table because we work well together, she has more experience so I feel comfortable asking her questions and confident that the answers I receive are correct, and she has the same sort of presentation style that the other guy and I seem to have. There was no bickering in our group this week.

On Monday we made an orange chiffon cake, carrot cake, German chocolate cake, a flourless chocolate cake, and attempted a genoise cake. We then prepared a cream cheese icing, a "fudge" icing *it is NOT chocolate, hence the quotation marks*, and a coconut pecan icing. We decorated and plated the cakes on Tuesday after the midterm.

The orange chiffon cake is similar to the angel food cake in preparation. We used orange juice concentrate instead of prepared orange juice and were extremely satisfied with the results. We liked the more prominent orange flavor of the cake. It turned out perfectly light and fluffy. The recipe said to make an orange glaze from orange juice and powdered sugar but we decided to go our own route and make a strawberry glaze instead. It looked beautiful and tasted phenomenal.

The German chocolate cake turned out with a brownie sort of texture. Everyone kept coming and stealing our scrap pieces because it tasted so great. It stuck in the pan a little, so we ended up slicing the cake up and making small platings of it instead of icing the full cake. We took the strawberry glaze from the orange chiffon cake and made a strawberry cream cheese icing to use in our other items. I took a martini glass and placed some cubed cake in the bottom. I then took my black tie mousse cake experience and made a chocolate cream cheese mousse to pipe in a swirl up the side of the glass. I then whipped up some heavy cream and piped it in between the mousse swirls. In the center, I spooned a little of the strawberry cream cheese icing and then placed a circle of additional cake on top. I then continued the mousse and cream swirls on the top of the cake. I zig zagged the pure strawberry glaze on the top and cut two tiny hearts of the cake to place on top as a garnish. I was pleased with the final presentation.


The flourless chocolate cake was bakes in a sheet pan and was a more dense cake. I cut out hears and made them into petals of a flower and placed a flower on the top as a center. I took the fudge icing and added a little almond extract and milk to it to thin it out as it is a very thick icing. I piped some of the strawberry puree on the petals. I was happy with my end presentation. I am also including a photo of Chef B's presentation because I thought it was beautiful and very Valentine's Day appropriate.


Our carrot cake was one of my favorites. It contained shredded carrots *obviously*, coconut, walnuts, and crushed pineapple. It was absolutely delicious. I was chosen to frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting, and then we toasted some coconut and shredded carrots to garnish the cake. I loved the final outcome.


The final cake that we worked on was the genoise cake. There were multiple issues with this cake. On the first day, only one team had a successful genoise cake. When we talked about it as a class, they told us that they measured out their eggs to 8 oz of whites and 8 oz of yolks. The next day, people were doing that method. The problem arose when I pointed out that the book did not say to do that. It says to warm WHOLE eggs. We then thought maybe it was a quantity issue. The book said to use 16 oz (10 eggs). The problem here, we thought, was that if you weigh out the eggs, 10 eggs does not equal 16 oz most of the time. We were all also having issues with having chunks of flour in our batter, but to incorporate the flour completely, we would have to fold so long that the batter would deflate. We were also baking the cakes in two 9" pans. In the end, we did comparison cakes with Chef CJ supervising. We determined that 10 eggs was the correct amount, the flour should be folded by hand *literally, using your hand and arm to fold in the flour while a second person gradually shakes sifted flour into the batter*, and it should be baked in one 8" pan. Here is a photo of two cakes side by side. The one on the left was in a 9" pan using 9 eggs and was tapped on the table before putting it in the oven *Chef CJ did not endorse that action and was not aware of it until after the cake came out of the oven.* All in all, we had a successful week in pastry.


We received a handout in safety and sanitation that I think will be extremely helpful in studying for the Servsafe test. Our midterm is next week in that class.

I have a midterm in concepts this week. He literally read us the questions on Friday. I am fairly confident that I will ace that test. I need to brush up for the millionth time on stocks and sauces as the two essay questions will be to describe in great detail a specific one of each of those. We don't know which one until the test, though. That is the only part I am mildly concerned about, but I know that with adequate studying, I will do fine.

I can't believe the quarter is halfway over already! I am enjoying this experience more than I even realized I would. Thank you, once again, to everyone who participated in my Christmas surprise. All the tools I received have truly been helping me make the most of this experience. It is so much easier to accomplish tasks in the kitchen with your own items and it gives you an advantage when it comes to putting everything together. It is also a benefit to not have to wait in line to use the items supplied by the school kitchen. I sincerely thank you all again. Every time I pull out an item that one of you gave me, I am thankful and touched all over again.


smbracy said...

These are so beautiful. They look absolutely yummy (I think I would like the mousse better than the strawberry frosted cake). Oh, who am I kidding, I would eat them all!!!!

Monica Kaye said...

I NEED that carrot cake! It's my favorite and so few do it well. I love catching up on all the fun stuff you are making and even hearing about all the hard work. So proud of you. LOVE.

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